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'It's a huge honour' - O'Mahony steps into Best's shoes against Wallabies

The Ireland captain has belief in Joey Carbery’s ability to guide the team at out-half.

Murray Kinsella reports from Brisbane

PETER O’MAHONY IS one of only 105 men to have captained Ireland since their Test-playing history began and the honour is not lost on him.

CJ Stander and Peter O'Mahony O'Mahony gathers a kick after being lifted by CJ Stander. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Munster back row has been named Ireland captain for tomorrow’s first clash with the Wallabies in Brisbane, the fourth time in his career he will lead the side from kick-off.

Having finished the captain’s run with his team at Suncorp Stadium on Friday afternoon in Brisbane, O’Mahony underlined how much it means to him.

“It’s a huge honour, it’s a big honour to be selected in any Irish team and any time you get a jersey is a special one but obviously, it’s just a little more special when you’re picked to captain your country.

“It’s a very proud moment for me and all my family and stuff, so it’s a huge moment.”

O’Mahony has big shoes to fill, with injury ruling Rory Best out of this tour after having been so instrumental in Ireland’s run of 12 consecutive victories and the Grand Slam success earlier this season.

“He’s certainly a loss, he’s a big character in the group, not just on the pitch but off the pitch,” said O’Mahony of Best.

“He’s the oldest and most experienced and someone like that is a big loss, especially to a touring party but he’ll be alright, we’ll see him in a few weeks and we’ve had to battle on without him.

A view of Conor Murray's boots Conor Murray's boots. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“The players I’ve been lucky enough to play alongside all my career have been special people that you pick up a lot from and you try and take little bits out of what they teach you and try and use them yourself.”

O’Mahony captains a team that shows six changes from the win over England to seal the Grand Slam in March, and he says he has confidence in the all-new front row of Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and John Ryan.

Robbie Henshaw and Jordi Murphy are proven at Test level, but it is the introduction of Joey Carbery at out-half for Ireland that has hogged the headlines since Joe Schmidt named his team yesterday.

O’Mahony backed the 22-year-old to deliver in Brisbane.

“He’s an incredible footballer, I don’t have to tell you that,” said O’Mahony. “He’s really grown into that leadership role. I suppose over the past two years he’s been getting better and better and he’s a big character in the squad, which you need from your 10.

“I think he’s growing all the time and it’s a huge opportunity for him tomorrow.”

Joey Carbery Carbery kicks at Suncorp Stadium. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

O’Mahony will hope to see Carbery’s career take another major step forward tomorrow and he is already excited about what the young out-half could produce at Munster next season after his move south from Leinster.

“Yeah, absolutely,” said O’Mahony. “He’s an incredible footballer and I’m certainly delighted to have a player of his calibre on the club’s books.”

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Murray Kinsella

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